BUSINESS MARKETING: When it hits the fan

2014-03-15T10:57:00Z BUSINESS MARKETING: When it hits the fanLarry Galler Times Business Columnist
March 15, 2014 10:57 am  • 

Every so often everything is going smoothly, the marketing is working, the cash register is ringing, and customers and staff have smiles on their faces. Then suddenly something awful happens, and it all goes wrong.

Someone slips and falls, a cranky person says something to another cranky person and tempers flare, a vendor makes an error causing a project to be late, a keystroke error causes a decimal point to throw off a spreadsheet and a projection becomes off by a factor of 10. In other words, it hits the fan.

Well-run businesses have proactively put policies in place to respond appropriately, quickly and at the appropriate level in the company.

In other businesses the response is chaotic. No one knows what to do so the problem goes up the chain of command until the owner or CEO has to make decisions on the spot and save the day, much like an old John Wayne Western movie where the cavalry gallops in, bugles blaring, over the dune to save the wagon train.

And after that problem is solved things go back to normal. Everyone hopes this incident will never happen again. Good luck with that.

Usually nothing was learned from the experience. There is no standard operating procedure put in place. A policy, already in place but not remembered, is not taught and reinforced throughout the company. So when it does hit the fan again, the same chaos and cavalry very galloping over the hill scenario plays out again and again.

Why not review the last problem that cropped up (or even wait for the next one) to use as a learning experience? Ask two questions: “What can we do to prevent this from ever happening again?" and "If it does happen again, what is the correct response, who should respond, and when should they respond?” Use the answers to create your standard operating procedure. Teach it to everyone. Document it. Reinforce it.

Expand this process so your company will become that proactive, well-managed company with no need for fans in the future.

Opinions are solely the writer's. Larry Galler, of Larry Galler & Associates, is a marketing and management consultant for small and mid-size companies. Learn about Galler’s new business growth program, “Beyond the Next Level” by sending an email to put “Beyond” in the subject line.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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